Interpersonal Leadership: Trust-Building
“Communications: Bridges for Trust-Building” (SL#76)
by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., adapted from SkillTrack® Vol. 7.2 - Trust-Building
(See also Skilltrack® 7.3 – Interpersonal Communication)

1. Communications that Build Trust

Communication: “People admire and respect leaders who are dynamic, uplifting, enthusiastic, positive, and optimistic--and who communicate such.” --Kouzes and Posner, The Leadership Challenge (see pp. 19-20)

A Summary Definition: Communication does not take place in isolation; it is a reciprocal process that may be the servant of those who want to be trusting and trust-building. In its simplest form the communication process includes:

Communications, as trust-building practices, are like building bridges for relationships and leadership. Bridges along the roadways we travel are built of the right material, structure, and size sufficient to carry planned wheel-loads across rivers, barriers, and chasms. Just so, our communication practices are like bridges to experiences along life’s journey.

Ephesians 4:28-29 teaches us that we are to do good things and to say good words. The text clearly teaches that through good [beneficial, useful, helpful, winsome] words and deeds we contribute to the welfare of others and build up those we serve in the congregation. Communication bridges connect us to others near and far, and so must be appropriate for the messages to be carried across barriers and on to our destination. Not to press the analogy too far, we must remember that we cross bridges by trust, and most often, we are not alone on the roadway of life and leadership. In summary, effective communications that build trust are significant, truthful, open, clear, timely; they are intended to be understood and helpful.

These communication traits, and others, are seen in a word picture recorded in Phil. 1:27. Let’s look at several translations of this verse:

Trust-building communication in the congregation, is more than “a conversation” (as implied in the KJV), meaning simply to speak to one another. Rather, it means “a way of life, a lifestyle, or behavior.” In fact, the text means “living lives that are worthy of our citizenship, as those who are followers of Christ.” This means that we are to are to practice Christian communication consistent with our whole being: who we are, what we do, and what we say. Each one of us has the choice to employ communication within our leadership and ministry that builds trust.

1: an act or instance of transmitting; 2a: information communicated; 2b: a verbal or written message; 3a: a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of signs, or behavior communication; 4a: a system (as of telephones) for communicating; 4b: a system of routes for moving troops, support vehicles; 4c: personnel engaged in communicating; 5a: a technique for expressing ideas effectively; 5b: technology of the transmission of information. --Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary

2. Let the Scripture Teach

3. Interpersonal Communication Factors

The following communication factors flow out of the concept in the graphic below; the presentation helps us to view the role of communication, whether consciously seeking to build trust or not. (from SkillTrack® 7.3- Interpersonal Communications)

4. Trust-Building Communication: Tasks and Practices

How will you utilize the communication process to build trust between you and another person, or with your working team, or within the congregation? The following suggestions may assist you in making an assessment of your present practices, or plan your actions for further development. These behavior actions may also help you to install communication as a component of a trust-climate within the channels of your life and ministry. Remember, trust-building communication involves your whole being: who you are, what you do, and what you say. Each one of us has choices about building bridges of communication and using trusting communication in the many tasks of ministry:

First--Ministry Leadership Tasks Requiring Trusting Communications:

Second--Communication Practices that Build Trust:

A closing thought from Warren Bennis to those who serve in congregations today: “Leaders generate trust. Leaders will have to be candid in their communications and show that they care. They’ve got to be seen to be trustworthy. Most communication has to be done eyeball-to-eyeball, rather than in newsletters, on videos, or via satellite.” --Focus, Bennis, p. 105

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© 2007; hosted and copyrighted by Lloyd Elder & Associates, Inc.
For full citation of referenced works, see Bibliography/Links at
Adapted by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., Founding Director, Moench Center for Church Leadership